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Republicans introduce pointless ICANN bill

Kevin Murphy, March 28, 2014, 04:06:47 (UTC), Domain Policy

Three Republican Congressmen have introduced a bill that would prevent the US government removing itself from oversight of the DNS root zone.
For a year.
The inappropriately titled Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act is designed to:

prohibit the National Telecommunications and Information Administration from relinquishing responsibility over the Internet domain name system until the Comptroller General of United States submits to Congress a report on the role of the NTIA with respect to such system.

Basically, the NTIA would be barred from walking away from root zone oversight until an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of the transition was published, which would have to happen within a year.
The report would also have to include a definition of “multi-stakeholder”.
The three Republicans who introduced the bill — Representatives Todd Rokita, John Shimkus, and Marsha Blackburn — either have no idea what they’re talking about, or they’re being intellectually dishonest.
Blackburn said in a press release:

We can’t let the Internet turn into another Russian land grab. America shouldn’t surrender its leadership on the world stage to a “multistakeholder model” that’s controlled by foreign governments. It’s imperative that this administration reports to Congress before they can take any steps that would turn over control of the Internet.

Shimkus said:

In the month of March alone we’ve seen Russia block opposition websites, Turkey ban Twitter, China place new restrictions on online video, and a top Malaysian politician pledge to censor the Internet if he’s given the chance. This isn’t a theoretical debate. There are real authoritarian governments in the world today who have no tolerance for the free flow of information and ideas. What possible benefit could come from giving the Vladimir Putins of the world a new venue to push their anti-freedom agendas?

This is hysterical nonsense.
Not only has ICANN no intention of allowing the IANA function to be controlled by foreign governments, the NTIA has explicitly stated from the start that no governmental solution would be acceptable.
It’s also ironic that the only two governments to ever consider censoring the root zone were the European Commission and the United States, under the Republican Bush administration.
The current expectation, assuming community talks proceed as swiftly as hoped, is for stewardship of the IANA function to leave the NTIA’s hands when the current contract expires in October 2015.
Even if the DOTCOM (really?) Act were to be passed into US law this year, it shouldn’t have any serious impact on the timing of the root transition.
With that in mind, the three-page bill (pdf) looks quite a lot like an extended press release, rather than a serious attempt to keep the root in US hands.

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Comments (22)

  1. Greg Shatan says:

    I count 6 co-sponsors. Otherwise, spot on.

  2. Adam says:

    “America shouldn’t surrender its leadership on the world stage to a “multistakeholder model”
    Aren’t those nasty republics a multi-stakeholder model ?
    I’m kind of embarrassed here that one of these guys is from my state.

  3. Aaron Strong says:

    So if Bill or Hillary Clinton introduced the bill, you would support it?…….Ole Billy happens to agree with these Republicans, as do many liberals and democrats …..Look past the “politics” and you will see the “multi-stake holder” UN controlled model is a serious threat to freedom of speech here at home and around the world…..

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      The UN model is “multilateral” not “multistakeholder”.
      These are two different things.
      Multilateral is just governments.
      Multistakeholder includes governments, registries, registrars, ISPs, businesses, intellectual property interests, non-commercial users, and YOU.
      The multilateral model has been explicitly excluded in the IANA transition process, as I explained in this post (read the NTIA press release).
      It’s definitely, definitely not going to happen.

  4. Adam Strong says:

    In case you weren’t aware Aaron, ICANN is already a multi-stake holder model. So they say at least 🙂

    • Aaron Strong says:

      We are still awaiting the definition of “multi-stake holder” model. That would be part of the bill, to understand what that term truly means…. Meanwhile, all fingers point to the UN controlling the Ingernet with no US interest. That is a serious threat to our Freedom of Speech as the UN does not recognize the USA Constitution……..If you know the answer to what a “multi stake holder” model looks like please inform us……..

      • Kevin Murphy says:

        Here are a few simple definitions:
        “Not the UN.”
        “Not governments.”
        “Aaron Strong is allowed to participate.”

  5. Howard Neu says:

    Your Obama support blinders have you thinking that the man and his administration can do no wrong. It is just a shame that the Democrats in Congress are looking to help the Administration sell this country down the river. What is to be gained by giving up oversight over ICANN?

    • Aaron Strong says:

      Well said Howard!…..Your blog post today was as well….Thanks for staying on top of this troublesome development with an open mind….

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      “Only a Sith deals in absolutes”

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      As long as the DNS root is believed to be under the control of the US, there’s the risk that other governments will split from the authoritative root with their own alt roots.
      If China were to have its own DNS, that would remove a large portion of your potential customer base if you’re a domain investor. Good luck selling a .com that only works in certain parts of the world.
      There’s also the risk, especially post-Snowden, that other governments will turn to the ITU or a similar body to replace ICANN. If they were to do that, governments really would be in charge of the DNS.
      You and I could very probably kiss our businesses goodbye if that were to happen.
      The US getting out of the picture is the safest way to retain the status quo.

      • Aaron Strong says:

        “As long as the DNS root is believed to be under the control of the US, there’s the risk that other governments will split from the authoritative root with their own alt roots.”…….What governments are you concerned about, the communist countries with tyrannical leaders?…….Let those communist governments split from the root if they do not want the USA to have an interest. .Why would they not want our interest?….That is troublesome in itself… ..It’s sounds like their problem and not ours(USA)……..Freedom wasn’t free…….It’s definitely not free if we rely on other governments to tell us what is in our best interest….

        • Kevin Murphy says:

          You’d be quite happy for each country to have its own internet that does not interoperate with the rest of the world?
          Be aware that I’m handing you rope to hang yourself with here.

          • Aaron Strong says:

            Kevin – I believe in a free and open internet that operates with the entire world…..I believe in freedom of speech, freedom of religion and human rights for the entire world. However, only in America is this a reality thankful to our USA Constitution….By relinquishing control of all internet operability, we will be handing over the largest resource known to humanity to governments that care nothing of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and human rights…This is troubling… …………The rope you referred to as “hang yourself here” may be handed to everyone…..

          • Kevin Murphy says:

            I think you’re misunderstanding what is happening here.
            Nothing is being handed to repressive foreign governments. Nothing. If you’ve read something somewhere that leads you to believe that’s what’s happening, you’ve been misinformed or lied to. People want you to believe that’s what’s happening because it fits into their political agendas.
            I urge you to read the NTIA’s press release and other statements, which specifically states that nothing is going to be handed to foreign governments.
            Also, I have to take issue with your statement that “only in America” are human rights protected. Look up the European Convention on Human Rights. The US would not be able to sign it today because the US does not respect human rights to the same extent as we do.

  6. Aaron Strong says:

    “The US would not be able to sign it today because the US does not respect human rights to the same extent as we do.”……………..So how do “you” or Europe respect human rights to more of an “extent”?…Your statement is historically inaccurate as the Constitution is much older and was a model for the EC on Human Rights…Europe and America are great partners in Human Rights and I will not divide or dishonor that relationship with this disagreement…..I did not mean to offend by the statement “Only in America”………..The NTIA’s duty is not to decide who gets US control of the internet, it is the job of Congress…… I appreciate your open and honest debate…… Best to you!

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      To answer your question: you have the death penalty. That’s viewed as a bit medieval here.

      • Rubens Kuhl says:

        Countries with death penalty:
        Afghanistan Bahamas Bangladesh Belarus Botswana China Cuba Egypt Guatemala India Indonesia Iran Iraq Japan North Korea South Korea Lebanon Malaysia Pakistan Russia Saudi Arabia Singapore Somalia Sri Lanka Suriname Syria Taiwan Tajikistan Tonga United Arab Emirates USA Uzbekistan Vietnam Yemen
        I guess those references to other governments include most of the above ?

  7. Err .. excuse me? It’s the job of a legislature of a foreign country to oversee the e-commerce infrastructure of every country in the world OUTSIDE its own?
    I don’t think so!

  8. Nick Nelson says:

    This picked up a little steam today.
    WALDEN: ICANN BILL A ‘PRUDENT IDEA’ – A GOP-backed measure to press pause on the NTIA’s recent decision to relinquish oversight of ICANN (until the Government Accountability Office can weigh in) is worthy of consideration, House telecom chairman Greg Walden says. Walden will lay out his thoughts, even if briefly, on the measure stewarded by Reps. Marsha Blackburn and John Shimkus during the panel’s hearing on the NTIA move this morning, pointing out the bill during his opening statement. Like many Republicans, he continues to worry about how foreign governments might step in to capitalize on waning U.S. control of the web. “If there are not sufficient safeguards in place to prevent foreign government intrusion, then this concept should go no further,” he’s expected to say.

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